5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in South Dakota

According to the Tax Foundation, South Dakota has the second best business tax climate in the country as of 2021. That not only makes the state a breeze for tax accountants who set up shop here, but makes it an attractive place for businesses to locate.

That makes the Mount Rushmore State a diverse place in terms of accounting demand. Although we’re known for both tourism and agriculture products, the truth is that there is no single sector that is dominant in the state’s gross domestic product stream. That’s why CPAs here find jobs in just about every kind of industry and every sort of specialty.

You might decide to go into banking services, where Wells Fargo and Citibank, both operating out of Sioux Falls, hold the 3rd and 4th highest amount of consolidated assets in the entire country. Or you could get into governmental accounting for one of the many federal agencies or military branches that operate up here. You can even get an IRS job, if auditing is what interests you.

There are also plenty of local and regional accounting firms that offer positions handling tax preparation, small business accounting, assurance services, and financial planning roles. Those includes KMWF & Associates in Sioux Falls and VRS in Brookings and Watertown. Or you can always go into business for yourself, and take your career in whatever direction you choose.

There are only 5 steps required to learn how to become a CPA in South Dakota, and you’ll find them all laid out for you below.

  1. Get your Education in South Dakota
  2. Take the Uniform CPA Exam in South Dakota
  3. Gain the Necessary Experience in South Dakota
  4. Get your South Dakota CPA License
  5. Continuing Education in South Dakota

1. Get Your Education

a. Request information from schools offering accounting programs in South Dakota. The South Dakota Board of Accountancy requires that all CPA applicants hold a bachelor’s or higher degree and complete 150 total semester hours of college credit.

With the standard bachelor’s degree in accounting consisting of just 120 semester hours, going on to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s in accounting represents the most tried and tested way to get those 30 additional credits. Many of these programs are available entirely online. You can also find specialized five-year CPA track programs that offer a blended bachelor’s and master’s curriculum designed to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in South Dakota.

b. The South Dakota Board of Accountancy recognizes all relevant credits and degrees earned through institutions that have been accredited by the following regional accreditation agencies:

  • Coursework taken at a two year college is acceptable if the college is regionally accredited.
  • Courses taken at an online college are acceptable if the college is regionally accredited.
  • If you studied at a non-accredited college or university, your credits will be honored if:
      • An accredited college accepted you into a graduate-level business program.
      • Your institution wasn’t accredited at the time of your education but was accredited at the time of application given that their graduation requirements were substantially similar prior to receiving accreditation.
      • You complete 15 semester/22 quarter hours including 9 semester/13 quarter hours in accounting through an accredited institution after earning your bachelor’s degree

If you studied outside the United States contact one of the following foreign transcript evaluation services:

The evaluation agency will then send original evaluations to the South Dakota Board of Accountancy for final approval.

c. Meet South Dakota’s CPA degree and curriculum requirements. Through a combination of your bachelor’s program and graduate courses or credits earned as part of certificate earned concurrent or separate from your degree, the 150 semester hours (225 quarter hours) of college education needs to include these courses:

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  • At least 24 semester (36 quarter hours) in accounting. These courses must be delivered at the 300-level at minimum (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral level) and include at least one course each in:
  • At least 24 semester or 36 quarter hours in business subjects other than accounting.

Note: Correspondence, on-line or CPA review courses, and CLEP credits are acceptable if they appear on the official transcripts from your degree granting institution.

2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

If you are within 100 days of fulfilling the South Dakota Board of Accountancy (SDBOA) educational requirements, you may register to take the Uniform CPA Exam. Take the following steps:

a. Apply directly through SDBOA to take the Uniform CPA Exam by downloading and completing the Initial Exam Application.

b. Submit the following items along with the application to SDBOA:

  • Official, sealed transcripts from the accredited institution where you earned credit.
  • Application fee and examination fee for exam sections you choose. They are as follows:
    • Business E & C – $202.51
    • Regulation – $202.51
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting – $222.03
    • Auditing – $222.03
    •  You can pay using a money order or certified check drawn on a U.S. bank. Make checks payable to South Dakota Board of Accountancy.

Include the following items with your application, as applicable:

  • South Dakota Re-exam application if you had previously taken the exam as a South Dakota candidate
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accommodation form (contact the Board directly at 605-367-5770)

c. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) will send you a payment coupon after your application has been approved and received from SDBOA. SDBOA’s review process takes about a week. You must use this payment coupon to pay all examination fees directly to NASBA.

d. Once payment is received, NASBA will issue your Notice to Schedule (NTS) the exam. It is important to bring the NTS with you on exam day.

e. Visit Prometric to schedule the exam. You need to schedule the exam within 1 year of the NTS date. South Dakota testing centers are located in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

f. Prepare for your chosen CPA exam section(s) and report to the test site on time. You are able to take up to four exam sections in one sitting.

g. Wait for the results. You will also receive written notification of your score through U.S. Mail.

For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Examination, click here.

3. Gain The Necessary Experience

After passing all sections of the Uniform CPA Examination in a single 18 months period, you are just a few steps away from obtaining your South Dakota CPA certificate.

a. Take the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Professional Ethics course, accessible online through the South Dakota Society of CPAs. This self-study course can be taken before the Uniform CPA exam but must be completed within 90 days of fulfilling the experience requirement.

b. Acquire the mandatory one year (2000 hours) of experience verified by a licensed CPA. If you’re going to be responsible for reports on financial statements, a minimum of 375 of these hours must be in compilation, audit and review experience. Experience should meet the following criteria:

  • Acquired through academia, government, industry or the public practice of accountancy
  • Involves use of attest/audit, accounting, financial advisory, management advisory, consulting or tax skills
  • Totals at least 2,000 hours of full or part time employment over a period of 1 – 3 years

c. Complete the Certificate of Experience form, including a signature of authorization from your supervising CPA. This will be sent in with your application for initial CPA certificate.

4. Get Your South Dakota CPA License

After completing the exam, education and experience requirements, you are eligible to apply for you CPA certificate.
Here’s a list of what you have done up to this point:

a. Checklist

  • Satisfied the education requirements: A bachelor’s degree at minimum with 150 semester hours (225 quarter hours) of credit including 24 semester (36 quarter) hours in accounting subjects, 24 semester (36 quarter) hours in business courses
  • Passed all sections of the Uniform CPA Exam
  • Passed the AICPA comprehensive professional ethics course
  • Gained the mandatory 2,000 hours of experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA

b. Download and fill out the Application for Initial CPA Certificate. Submit the application and Certificate of Experience form with the $50 fee to:

South Dakota Board of Accountancy
301 East 14th Street, Suite 200
Sioux Falls, SD 57104

c. Wait to receive the CPA certificate from the South Dakota Board of Accountancy

Interstate Reciprocal Certificate

If you want to have a principal place of business in South Dakota and are currently licensed from another state or jurisdiction, complete the Application for Reciprocal Certificate and Authorization for nterstate Exchange of Examination and Licensure Information form. If you hold a license from a substantially equivalent (SE) state, you will receive a South Dakota certificate upon verification from your licensing board that your current license is in good standing.

CPA Certificate by International Reciprocity

If you hold a foreign CPA or equivalent designation from Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Hong Kong or Mexico, you can take the IQEX exam administered by NASBA and apply for a South Dakota CPA certificate by international reciprocity.

If you hold an accounting designation from another country, use one of the evaluation services listed in the Education step and sit for CPA examination. However, the board maintains that everyone’s circumstances are different when it comes to foreign reciprocity so your application would be reviewed individually. You can contact the SDBOA with specific questions at [email protected].

5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in South Dakota

The CPA certificate in South Dakota renews every three years. You are obligated to obtain 120 hours of CPE credits in a rolling three year period. If your permit was issued less than a year before the renewal date, you do not have any CPE requirements until the beginning of the new cycle. The minimum credit requirement in any given year is 20 CPE credits. The reporting period is July 1st – June 30th.

CPE credits must meet the following criteria:

  • A maximum of 60 CPE credits are allowed for teaching accounting related courses in any three year renewal period
  • Up to 24 hours of CPE credits specific to behavioral and motivational courses are allowed in each three year renewal period

Record Retention for CPEs

You must keep the following CPE records for 4 years:

  • Name and address of CPE sponsor
  • Title and description of content
  • Dates of program
  • Location of program, and
  • Number of credits earned

The fee for renewal is $50 for on-time applications and $100 for late applications. If you used a CPE provider listed in the National Registry, an online renewal can be done here, or by use the hardcopy Record of CPE form. If you gained CPE through a channel other those named use the Non-Sponsor CPE Form form.

Now that you’re a CPA in South Dakota

As a Certified Public Accountant, you may want to join the organizations that promote the public accounting profession and provide professional development, CPE and networking opportunities. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the national organization that provides these opportunities, and at the state level, the South Dakota Society of CPAs provides CPE opportunities while also advocating for local CPAs by representing them in legislative meetings.

And although South Dakota remains one of the most tax-friendly states in the country, it does still have a sales tax, so brushing up on your sales tax reporting requirements isn’t a bad idea once you’re in business here.

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